By Tim Harfmann
A special hour of prayer — dedicated to the plight of persecuted Christians — was held simultaneously throughout New York State. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio led members of the Knights of Columbus before the Blessed Sacrament and the icon of Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians.
“It’s terrible that people would use violence against people of faith, especially when they’re praying. Praying for an end to violence is something that we know we can do. The Lord listens to our prayers. We have to ask,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The international Catholic organization is at the forefront of helping Christians facing violence because of their faith — and 2019 is projected to be Christianity’s bloodiest year yet.
Kenneth Latham, New York State’s deputy, leads 86,000 knights and said they stand in solidarity with worshipers overseas; “They need money. They don’t have houses. They don’t have shelter. This is what the Knights of Columbus is helping to provide to persecuted Christians.”
Father Michael Gelfant, Knights of Columbus chaplain, said the persecution is also felt here at home; “Our Christian values are being attacked by certain laws and politicians; and there’s this sense of the Church also being under attack.”
The latest attacks against Christians was also remembered on this night. Ten worshippers were killed in just two days in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Before that, over 250 people were killed in Sri Lanka during the Easter Sunday bombings.
Following the prayer service at the Saint James Cathedral Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn was the recognition of a newly formed council. It is named in memory of late Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily. The group became the 17,000th official Knights of Columbus council in the world. “[Bishop Daily] just loved the Knights of Columbus. I had so many great conversations with him, and his love of the order just came from him naturally,” said Latham. “He was so proud to be a knight. His father had worked for the Knights of Columbus. He was a very faithful knight, and this is something to his memory,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The new council joined the fight for an end to violence against persecuted Christians.